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A hot air mass parked over central Australia is delivering the second brutal heat wave this month. January is quickly approaching a record-breaking month Down Under.


These heat waves are being driven by warmer ocean temperatures, in turn heating-up central Australia and spilling across the eastern half of the continent.

“The heat waves were likely driven by warmer sea temperatures combining with the unusual spread of a ‘reservoir of hot air’ that had been building in central Australia over the past several weeks,” said Phil King of the Bureau of Meteorology.

The Tuesday overnight temperature for Sydney, New South Wales (NSW), a city of 4.3 million people, registered 77F. By 6 a.m. the mercury read 88F and later in the afternoon, in the western suburbs, it reached a scorching 109F.

It was the hottest sticky night in five years. Thousands of people appeared at Sydney’s Bondi Beach just after sunrise to cool off.

“We’re not used to seeing that many people, normally it’s crickets [this early in the morning] … but there’s a lot of people in the water, it makes it difficult to see them with the sun glaring in our face,” said Bondi lifeguard Andrew Reid.

https://twitter.com/AFP/status/819143079454093312 people with previous medical conditions can really suffer a great deal,” paramedic Lara King said. “Also young healthy fit people who don’t think they have got any concerns need to be really cautious.”

Last week, 200 other Queenslanders were treated for heat stroke and dehydration.

Two key findings on heat waves from Australia’s Climate Council report Silent Killer highlighted that:

  • Heat waves are a silent killer. Major heatwaves have caused more deaths since 1890 than wildfires, cyclones (hurricanes), earthquakes, floods and severe storms combined.
  • Extreme heat increases the risk of heat illness and can also exacerbate pre-existing illnesses such as heart and kidney conditions. Children, the elderly, the disabled and outdoor workers are among those most at risk.

In addition to fierce heat waves, new research from the ARC Centre of Excellence for Climate System Science warned that as Earth’s temperatures approach 2C, the upper limit of the Paris climate agreement, Australia will see an 11.3-30 percent intensification of rainfall from extreme precipitation events, while some areas will increase in drought.

“There is no chance that rainfall in Australia will remain the same as the climate warms,” said Professor Steve Sherwood, an author of the research from University of New South Wales.

Another report, The Heat Matches On, warned that “as Australians continue to suffer from more frequent and worsening extreme heat events, the path to tackling climate change is becoming more urgent: no new coal mines can be built, existing coal mines and coal-fired power stations must be phased out and renewable energy must be scaled up rapidly.”

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In last eight years, nearly 70,000 birds have been killed in the New York City area to make the skies safer for air travel.

On Jan. 15, 2009, three minutes after takeoff from New York City's La Guardia Airport, U.S. Airways Flight 1549 hit a flock of Canada geese just northeast of the George Washington Bridge and lost all engine power. Remarkably, pilots Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger and Jeff Skiles ditched the aircraft onto the Hudson River in midtown Manhattan. All passengers and crew, 155 people, escaped with only a few serious injuries.

In last eight years, nearly 70,000 birds have been killed in the New York City area to make the skies safer for air travel.

On Jan. 15, 2009, three minutes after takeoff from New York City’s La Guardia Airport, U.S. Airways Flight 1549 hit a flock of Canada geese just northeast of the George Washington Bridge and lost all engine power. Remarkably, pilots Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger and Jeff Skiles ditched the aircraft onto the Hudson River in midtown Manhattan. All passengers and crew, 155 people, escaped with only a few serious injuries.

It was the most successful ditching in aviation history known as the “Miracle on the Hudson.”

https://twitter.com/NYPDCT/status/820796319233089536

Since then, the following birds have been eradicated by government agencies: 28,000 gulls, 16,800 European starlings, 6,000 brown-headed cowbirds, 4,500 mourning doves and approximately 1,800 Canada geese.

In the five years before the Hudson River emergency landing, there were 158 bird strikes per year. In the six years following the accident, 299 air strikes were recorded per year, according to statistics amassed by the Associated Press.

These numbers show that killing nearly 70,000 birds in 2009 did not reduce the number of airplane strikes. “There has to be a long-term solution that doesn’t rely so extensively on killing birds and also keeps us safe in the sky,” said Jeffrey Kramer, of GooseWatch NYC.

In 2016, New York’s Port Authority signed a five-year, $9.1 million agreement with the U.S. Department of Agriculture to research and manage the wildlife around the airports. This includes regularly shooting a laughing gull colony at nearby Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge.

According to Port Authority documents, “One must consider the consequences if this proven shooting program was discontinued and a serious bird strike occurred while the colony was still present.”

However, there are many non-lethal methods that airports around the globe use to keep their runways free of birds.

Pyrotechnics are used daily at most airports to drive birds away.

“The flash, bang kind of stuff immediately gets their attention and pushes them away,” Michael Begier, national co-ordinator of the airport wildlife hazards program at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, said.

Salt Lake City’s airport has reduced the number of Canada geese by addling their eggs. “The goose is scared from the nest and the eggs are addled or oiled pretty much in place by picking each egg up individually and shaking them or submerging them in vegetable oil,” Gib Rokich, who oversees the airport’s wildlife program, remarked.

“The goose continues to sit on them but they never have a successful hatch. If she lays 10 goslings, and five survive into adulthood, then they will want to come back to the same location to nest, so you can see how it can multiply. After four years, we broke the cycle, so we still get the occasional one but they’re not established any more.”

UK airports use bird distress signals, which effectively clear runways. Speakers are mounted on vehicles that emit more than 20 different bird calls.

Since 1999, Fort Myers, Florida, has used dogs to keep birds away, successfully reducing bird strikes by 17 percent. “While the egrets, herons and moorhens can get use to pyrotechnics, they never adapt to the presence of a natural predator like dogs,” Ellen Lindblad, director of planning and environmental compliance at Southwest Florida International Airport, said.

Salt Lake City’s airport uses pigs to disrupt California gulls. Pigs trample and eat gull eggs, and each spring they are used to deter gull colonies. When the gulls arrive and see the pigs waiting to devour their eggs, they move on.

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The combined wealth of eight men is greater than the poorest 3.6 billion people, according to the anti-poverty charity Oxfam International.

This is a massive jump from last year’s estimate, which cited the world’s 62 richest people having a combined wealth equal to the poorest 50 percent of the population on the planet.


Oxfam’s report, An Economy for the 99%, details the widening inequality of global wealth. The report will be presented at the World Economic Forum annual summit, beginning Jan. 17 in Davos, Switzerland. The attendees will include the top business executives, policy makers and academics.

Oxfam’s goal is to draw attention to political and economic forces creating widening inequality.

“It is obscene for so much wealth to be held in the hands of so few when 1 in 10 people survive on less than $2 a day,” said Winnie Byanyima, executive director of Oxfam International, who will be attending the meeting in Davos. “Inequality is trapping hundreds of millions in poverty; it is fracturing our societies and undermining democracy.”

The combined wealth of these eight men is greater than 164 countries GDPs:

  • Microsoft founder Bill Gates, $75 billion
  • Spanish retail magnate Amancio Ortega, $67 billion
  • American investor Warren Buffett, $60.8 billion
  • Mexican investor Carlos Slim Helu, $50 billion
  • Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos, $45.2 billion
  • Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, $44.6 billion
  • Oracle founder Larry Ellison, $43.6 billion
  • Media mogul Michael Bloomberg, $40 billion

Many of these top eight men have already pledged vast amounts of their fortunes to charity.

Oxfam found that incomes of the poorest people increased a meager $65 between 1988 and 2011, or $3 annually. The incomes of the wealthiest 10 percent, on the other hand, added a whopping 182 times during the same time period.

A report released December 2016 by economists Thomas Piketty, Emmanuel Saez and Gabriel Zucman found that 117 million American adults are living on income stagnated at $16,200 a year, before taxes and transfer payments. It concluded that the lower half of the U.S. population has been “shut off from economic growth over the past 40 years.”

Tax avoidance by corporations and mega-wealthy individuals are escalating inequality between the rich and poor at a staggering rate. Oxfam’s report contends that the wealthiest people and corporations are using a sophisticated network of tax havens. As a result, they are not paying their fair share. That enormous sum of money not being taxed is desperately needed by government agencies for aging infrastructure, social assistance and future-proofing cities for more extreme weather.

According to the report, it’s the inequality that is holding back economies.

“Global leaders are very aware now of the fact that if stark inequality continues at this level, it has a global economic impact,” said Jim Clarken, chief executive of Oxfam, Ireland. “This is not something that is inevitable. This is something that is a result of policy choices, and can be changed with the right kinds of policy choices.”

Oxfam is urging governments to increase tax transparency and halt tax avoidance by multi-national corporations.

The organization believes that governments should be designed for the bottom 99 percent of the income earners rather than the top wealthiest one percent. Mandatory public lobby registries with stricter rules on conflicts of interest would curtail this widening gap of disparity.

According to the report:

“Some of the super-rich also use their fortunes to help buy the political outcomes they want, seeking to influence elections and public policy. The Koch brothers, two of the richest men in the world, have had a huge influence over conservative politics in the U.S., supporting many influential think tanks and the Tea Party movement and contributing heavily to discrediting the case for action on climate change. This active political influencing by the super-rich and their representatives directly drives greater inequality by constructing ‘reinforcing feedback loops’ in which the winners of the game get yet more resources to win even bigger next time.”

“From Brexit to the success of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, a worrying rise in racism and the widespread disillusionment with mainstream politics, there are increasing signs that more and more people in rich countries are no longer willing to tolerate the status quo,” cautioned Oxfam’s new report.

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